Christian Zionists are believed to be behind the Donald Trump’s decision to assert that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel therefore it does not belong to Muslims, or to those Christians who do not believe in the second coming or the end times or their version of it. This is not just a political move but a religious one linked to their theological view of the world. They believe war with non-believers and the end time is closer than ever and they should do their best to quicken it. And it all starts and end in Jerusalem.
But why should such a narrow interpretation of biblical scriptures motivate the foreign policies of U.S.?
Some Christian theologians have a very different interpretation of the second coming, contrary to the traditional or orthodox belief. For some, Jesus’ resurrection was his second coming. For others, it was the descent of the holy spirit on the day of Pentecost. Jurgen Moltmann, the famous German theologian whose main interest is eschatology once wrote: “In God’s presence we experience the end of our past and the beginning of our future. The talk about God that is provoked by the modern ‘end of time’ is a talk about God for the opening up of our times.” Many other Christian theologians have had different interpretations about the notion of end times and the second coming.
The second coming has also been interpreted differently by various religious groups throughout history. For example, the Bahai faith believes in the reappearance of Word and Spirit. And Mahdi, as its meaning suggests, is nothing but a divine guidance for the believers. For the Bahais, Bab was the second coming and later Bahá’u'lláh.
In Ahmadiyya sect, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad was the fulfilment of the the prophecy of second coming, realised in him.
The concept of second coming has also entered the Hindu culture and nowhere it is better reinterpreted and expressed than in Paramahansa Yogananda’s book, Autobiography of a Yogi. Yogananda wrote, “that the true Second Coming is the resurrection within you of the Infinite Christ Consciousness.”
The belief in the end times and second coming is not exclusive to the Christian Zionists. Ultra right Jews, fundamental Sunnies and Islamic Republic of Iran all believe in this worldview. Ironically they also say they believe in the same God!
The theological concept of second coming and end times did not originate in the Abrahamic religions either. Many scholars believe it is a Zoroastrian concept. Although its Zoroastrian origins can no longer be doubted but the importance of eschatology in the early Zoroastrian text, Gathas, is still a matter of scholarly debate.
Zoroastrian religion did not have a proper opportunity to undergo any necessary reform which was much needed in its long history. Many Persian kings, propped up and anointed by the Zoroastrian priests resisted any change. But what if Zoroastrian religion did go through an enlightened reformation? Were the priests and theologians capable of reimagining some of their religious doctrines? Let’s for a moment assume some possible reinterpretation of certain Zoroastrian religious beliefs:
- Saošyant (Saviour) referred to Zoroaster and not a saviour in some future time. Also just as Zoroaster (an ordinary man in many respects) was capable to bring positive changes in his society despite hostile opposition, Saošyant could also be anyone whose vision for a better life can be realised.
- The end times, mēnōg (individual) is a spiritual metaphor for rewards for a good and moral life where a righteous person is rewarded. So perhaps we could look at ourselves and reflect for a minute on our current thoughts, words and deeds where the future events are influenced and made.
- The end times, gētīg (universal) means the end of all violent conflicts where people no longer kill each other for their differences but celebrate their common humanity instead.
- In the world to come, frašēgerd, good virtues are no longer denied and hidden in the depth of human soul as the result of oppression or fear but will be resurrected and shall shine brilliantly.
- The day of judgement refers to a time in the future where a universal justice is in place and people regardless of their religion, race and gender are judged according to the same law. But it is up to us to work toward this end.
Today, the planet and many of its living creatures are endangered. Climate change demands everyone’s immediate attention. There has already been five mass extinctions and the possible sixth mass extinction is not a far fetched idea created by some mad scientists, it is based on scientific data. Millions of refugees are in search of food and shelter. Many more people are displaced. Pollution and consumer culture are slowly but surely choking the environment to death. Food and water security have become major concerns in many areas. Some small islands have disappeared as a result of rising sea levels.
Does the world need yet another doomsday narrative seperate from the one already in motion? Shouldn't governments use their resources and cooperate to fix the planet's problems rather than create more catastrophe?